Claudia and Halliwell: NYP fights back
by TIM HICKS
The NYE has been steadfast in its coverage of the murder of Claudia Lawrence (pictured below, left), who was last seen on March the 11th 2009. This is to keep the case in the public eye and to try and bring it to a successful resolution. So her mother Joan Lawrence and her friends know what happened to her.
In particular, the NYE has alleged that North Yorkshire Police (NYP) has fixated obsessively on the belief that Claudia’s killer is one of her social circle and the investigation was completely contaminated with confirmatory bias towards this line of enquiry.
As a consequence of this obsession, the NYE has further alleged that NYP has prematurely excluded serial killer Christopher Halliwell (pictured below, right), who is currently in prison on a full life sentence for 2003 murder of Becky Godden-Edwards and the 2011 murder of Sian O’Callaghan.
Brave Mrs Joan Lawrence continues to strive for a resolution
Claudia’s brave mother, Joan (pictured top, left), has done everything she can to keep the case in the public eye and encourage witnesses to come forward. She has not wavered in her efforts to find out what happened, retrieve Claudia’s body and obtain justice for her daughter.
In March 2023, she criticised the NYP investigation and again repeated her belief that NYP had ignored Halliwell as a suspect in this Daily Mail article, this Daily Mirror article and other articles in the national and local media. Following this stinging criticism, NYP has struck back, issuing a statement that criticises Joan Lawrence. As with most NYP statements, the key issue is not what the statement says, but what it does not say.
NYP failed to eliminate Halliwell as a suspect; it could only conclude that it is “unlikely” that he was in York at the material time. This means it was not impossible that he was in York when Claudia was abducted and therefore could still have committed the murder. He has not been eliminated. Yet the statement evades addressing the central question that both Joan Lawrence and the NYE are raising of why he has not been declared a suspect and investigated in the normal way.
The statement goes on to assert:
“North Yorkshire Police continues to urge the public to pass on any information that could help the investigation. This is to ensure a full assessment can be undertaken and developed where opportunity exists to do so.”
This is a falsehood. The NYE has passed on enhanced CCTV images of a man resembling Christopher Halliwell from outside Claudia’s house at the time of her disappearance and the investigation has ignored it. Presumably because it does not fit with the NYP narrative that excludes Halliwell as a suspect.
Joan Lawrence calls for meeting with Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe
In my article “Claudia: New Developments” I gave the reasons why I believe Halliwell is a strong suspect for Claudia’s murder. I went on to suggest that the reason that NYP will not investigate Halliwell as a suspect is because should Halliwell be confirmed as Claudia’s murderer, it will show that NYP bungled the investigation and arrested six innocent men, thereby ruining their lives – a disaster for the reputation of the Force and something its Chief Officers will do anything they can to prevent.
In short, NYP has a conflict of interest between its duty to impartially investigate Halliwell as a suspect on the one hand and protecting its own reputation on the other. Hence perhaps the reason it is refusing to investigate him seriously.
According to this York Mix article from the 23rd of May 2023, Mrs Lawrence has accused NYP of doing nothing and asked for a face-to-face meeting with Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe (pictured top, right). She has also asked for “changes at the top” of the investigation. Presumably this means removing the Senior Investigating Officer, who is Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox.
I also agree with Joan that this case could be solvable, but only if a senior detective from another Force is brought in to lead it.
To try and highlight the failures in the investigation and obtain a change in leadership, I submitted a complaint about the conduct of the investigation to Commissioner Metcalfe on the 21st of April 2023, which is below.
Dear Commissioner Metcalfe,
Murder of Claudia Lawrence
Further to my email to you of the 15th of April 2023, which has not been acknowledged and which you appear to be ignoring in accordance with your joint policy with the Chief Constable of proscribing me, I write to confirm that I have published an article on the latest statement from North Yorkshire Police on the Claudia Lawrence murder investigation, which is below for your information.
Can also confirm that I have not received any response from Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox to my email of the 15th of April 2023, which is below. Accordingly, please can you record a complaint against Detective Superintendent Fox for:
- Incivility: Failure to respond to correspondence.
- Failure to comply with College of Policing guidance on media relations.
- Failure to follow up all lines of enquiry in the Claudia Lawrence enquiry relating to the suspect Christopher John Halliwell, specifically: Enhanced CCTV images received from NYE reader Arrin Stoner.
- Failure to follow up all lines of enquiry in the Claudia Lawrence enquiry relating to the suspect Christopher John Halliwell, specifically: Correspondence from myself with the same enhanced CCTV images.
- Failure to follow up all lines of enquiry in the Claudia Lawrence enquiry relating to the suspect Christopher John Halliwell, specifically: My e mail of the 15th of April below.
- Failure to follow up all lines of enquiry in the Claudia Lawrence enquiry relating to the suspect Christopher John Halliwell, specifically: Failure to interview Christopher John Halliwell in prison over his whereabouts at the material time and to give him the opportunity of admitting or denying his involvement in the murder of Claudia Lawrence.
- Failure to follow up all lines of enquiry in the Claudia Lawrence enquiry relating to the suspect Christopher John Halliwell, specifically: Failure to review clothing found at a trophy store at Ramsbury Wilts, thought to have been taken from Halliwell’s victims to see if any of it can be matched to Claudia.
- Failure to follow up all lines of enquiry in the Claudia Lawrence enquiry relating to the suspect Christopher John Halliwell, specifically: Failure to review a series of sketches of locations made by Halliwell to see if they can be identified as the White Horse at Kilburn, or any other place where Claudia Lawrence’s body could be hidden.
- Issuing a media statement to the public which stated it was “unlikely” that Christopher Halliwell was in York at the time of Claudia Lawrence’s abduction, when this assertion has no basis in fact, because Halliwell’s whereabouts at the time are unknown.
Pending resolution of this complaint and the related complaint about Chief Constable Winward below, I would request that Detective Superintendent Fox is suspended from any further part in the Claudia Lawrence investigation and a senior officer from another force, preferably the Metropolitan Police is called in to perform a complete review the investigation and to lead it going forward.
Please can you also direct NYP to issue a statement clarifying the situation with the investigation and confirming clearly if Halliwell a) has been eliminated as a suspect and how this has been achieved, or b) remains a suspect.
I would welcome any media statement you, Chief Constable Winward or Detective Superintendent Fox would care to issue for publication in the NYE
I look forward to your response in due course.
NUJ Membership Number WO15306
In response, Commissioner Metcalfe simply ignored the complaint.
The implication of this is that NYP and Commissioner Metcalfe are unable to defend NYP’s refusal to declare Halliwell as a suspect in Claudia Lawrence’s murder – so NYP is maintaining its right to silence by simply ignoring the complaint, instead of addressing the issues it raises, some of which (highlighted in bold) have subsequently been raised independently by Joan Lawrence.
This raises the additional concern that instead of intervening and holding the police to account, Commissioner Mulligan is just ignoring the complaints process to blindly support NYP in this policy no matter what. I would emphasise that neither NYP or the Commissioner denies the concerns I have raised in my complaint are valid. They just refuse to comment.
In my view this is an abuse of her position by Commissioner Metcalfe and demonstrates that she simply will not hold the Police to account on this issue.
Returning to brave Mrs Lawrence – who is a lady that I profoundly admire – I agree with her that NYP is doing nothing about Halliwell. Under normal circumstances, and with an effective and impartial Commissioner, the right course of action would be to bring this situation to the attention of Commissioner Metcalfe, who is the official charged with holding NYP to account.
However, that is not the situation that prevails. I think Mrs Lawrence is wasting her time asking for an interview with Commissioner Metcalfe, because she is ignoring the issue and supporting NYP no matter what.
Right of Reply
If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or if you wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.